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Mac and cheese always seems to be a hit, so this recipe is excellent to take to a potluck or a party. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare (that includes cooking the pasta) and about 3 hours to cook in the slow cooker. 

My recipe uses all the best things in life: butter, Velveeta, half and half, and cheddar cheese. Perfection! It just makes me happy, and I know it will make you happy too. And the recipe is easily customizable, so you can add protein, make it spicier with my pickled jalapenos, or even cheesier!

slow cooker mac and cheese recipe with extra cheese melted on top ready to serve.

This recipe has a story for our family. My daughter’s mother-in-law was known for her famous mac & cheese. My daughter knew she was loved when she was handed the printed recipe with all of her mother-in-law’s handwritten notes. My friend graciously now shares it with you through this post. Thanks, Connie! 😘

🧀 Easy Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Why I Am Positive, This is the BEST Crock Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe Ever

  • Quick Prep Time: This recipe takes almost no time at all. Seriously, it’s just so easy. As long as you can boil pasta, you can make this recipe, and it will be perfect every single time.
  • Super Cheesy: Plus, it uses all the best ingredients. Super cheesy, made with creamy Velveeta cheese and evaporated milk for an extra silky texture, this is a recipe you’ll want to make sure you pin for later.
  • Side Dish or A Meal: slow cooker mac and cheese is perfect as a decadent meal or as a side dish to serve to your family or your dinner guests. It makes everyone feel cozy and comfortable. Serve it up on a Friday night after a hectic school week or on a Sunday afternoon for a dinner that will make everyone glad to stay home for.

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese Ingredients

To make mac and cheese in the crock pot, you’ll need to add a few cheesy, creamy items to your grocery list.

slow cooker mac and cheese recipe ingredients. cheeses, half and half, evaporated milk, butter
  • Uncooked elbow macaroni – You don’t have to use macaroni, although it is the classic mac and cheese shape. Spirals, bowties (farfalle), or penne will work as well. 
  • Butter – Use the real thing in this recipe for the best flavor.
  • Evaporated milk – Don’t confuse this with condensed milk! They’re very different.
  • Half and half – Cream or whole milk will also work in this recipe.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – Sharp cheddar cheese gives the best flavor in my opinion. For extra heat, you can use pepper Jack or another variety of cheese that includes jalapeños.
  • Velveeta cheese – Good old Velveeta saves the day! So easy to use, and it adds a ton of flavor for that classic mac and cheese gooey-ness you’re craving.

Pro Tip: Evaporated milk is the secret ingredient to making the perfect slow cooker mac and cheese. Not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk is simply milk with about 60% of the water removed. In this recipe, it provides needed liquid without watering down the sauce by using too much regular milk. It also gives the cheese sauce a rich and silky consistency instead of the grainy texture cheese sauce can sometimes take on.

How to Make Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese Step-By-Step

  1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions for ‘Al Dente’ pasta, usually about 8-10 minutes.
cooked macaroni noodles in a pan on the stove.
  1. While it’s cooking, measure out your butter and cut it into cubes. Cut the Velveeta into cubes as well, and measure out the evaporated milk, half and half, and cheese.
  2. When it’s done cooking, drain the pasta. Give it a couple of good shakes to remove any water that’s stuck inside the pasta shapes.
  3. Immediately place the drained macaroni into your slow cooker. Add the cubed butter and give it a few good stirs until the butter is melted and the macaroni is completely coated.
cooked macaroni in a crock pot with butter on top

Pro Tip: I highly recommend using a crock pot plastic liner. It will save you a lot of time during cleanup! Mac & cheese in a crockpot likes to stick to the bottom and it’s a challenge to clean. Using a bag you just pull it out and toss it. Easy!

  1. Next, add the shredded cheddar, the cubed Velveeta cheese, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker with the macaroni. Stir everything together really well. The Velveeta and cheese might start to melt a bit. You just want everything to look well blended.
cooked macaroni with cheddar cheese, velveeta, salt and pepper
  1. Add the evaporated milk and half and half. Gently stir it to coat the other ingredents.
cooked macaroni with cheeses, and half and half poured in
  1. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set the heat to low for 3 hours.
  2. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the remaining half cup of shredded cheddar cheese evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  3. Once the cooking time is completed, switch the slow cooker setting to “warm” to keep the macaroni and cheese at a delicious, serving-ready temperature.
slow cooker mac and cheese recipe with extra cheese melted on top ready to serve.

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese Recipe Tips and Helpful Hints

  • If you don’t have a crock pot plastic liner for easy clean up you can use cooking spray or butter to coat the inside of the slow cooker generously.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta when you boil it. It needs to juuuuust be tender-crisp because it will cook a little bit more in the slow cooker. 
  • Resist the urge to open the lid of the Crock Pot. Trust the process, and don’t remove the lid so the heat doesn’t escape.

Mac and Cheese Dinner Menu

This recipe goes really well with all kinds of main dishes, especially burgers, hot dogs, and sausages. But you can also turn this mac and cheese into an entire main dish on its own. During the last 30 minutes of cooking stir in a pound of cooked taco seasoned ground beef. Add a can of drained tomatoes and green chilis and you have a great Mexican macaroni and cheese. Adding some protein will help make this even more filling. Serve with a side salad or a Caesar with homemade dressing for a complete dinner.

Can I make this without a slow cooker? 

Yup! If you don’t have a Crock Pot handy, you can make this recipe in the oven instead. Cook the macaroni as directed. Meanwhile, over low-medium heat, stir your sauce ingredients together. Whisk until fully combined and hot. Dump your pasta in a 9×13 casserole dish and pour the sauce overtop. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and gooey. 

You can place the dish under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp up the cheese if you’d like. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!

What To Do With Mac & Cheese Leftovers (if there are any)

  • In the fridge – Leftover mac and cheese is never a bad thing, and this recipe tastes even better the next day. Let the mac and cheese come to room temperature, then place it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • In the freezer – You can store leftover crock pot macaroni and cheese in the freezer for 1-2 months. Keep in mind the pasta might lose it’s texture and break down when you try to reheat it, so use it up as quickly as possible. Just let it come to room temperature, and store it in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or airtight container. 
  • How to reheat – Mac and cheese is great to reheat in the microwave. If you have a lot to reheat, you can scoop it into a casserole dish and top it with a bit more shredded cheese and a splash of milk. Place it in a preheated oven at 350°F until hot, about 10-15 minutes. 

Mac and Cheese Bar Dinner Party

Hosting a mac and cheese food bar for a dinner party is a great idea, as it allows your guests to customize their mac and cheese dishes according to their preferences. Crock Pot recipes are always perfect for parties. They’re so convenient. They do all the heavy lifting so you can focus on your guests, plus they don’t heat up your kitchen or make a ton of dishes you have to do later.

Crock Pot mac and cheese is especially great for parties because it goes with almost anything; just about everyone loves it. For your mac & cheese bar, prepare a selection of toppings and mix-ins in separate bowls or containers. Some popular choices include shredded cheese, crispy bacon bits, pulled BBQ chicken, spicy cowboy candy, and diced green onions.

Arrange the slow cooker mac and cheese at one end of the food bar. Place the toppings, mix-ins, and accompaniments along the bar in an organized and visually appealing manner. Print the mac and cheese food bar label cards and cut them out. Label each item so guests know what’s available.

To get the party started, be sure to print your free copy of these adorable Free Mac and Cheese Food Bar Label Cards. Place one at each bowl of toppings, and if you make several slow cookers full of mac and cheese, label each variety. The cards would also make cute table name tags for your guests.

page of mac and cheese food bar labels with cheese dripping on them

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slow cooker mac and cheese recipe with extra cheese melted on top ready to serve.
5 from 1 rating

Creamiest, Cheesiest, Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8
This slow cooker mac and cheese recipe will become a family favorite, I promis! There’s nothing like the creamy, cheesy goodness of digging into a hearty helping of homemade mac and cheese. It’s especially delicious when it’s cooked in the slow cooker, mostly because it requires almost no effort. The hardest part is cooking the pasta. For real!

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

hand showing you to tap on the ingredient to add to your walmart and target list.

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions for ‘Al Dente’ pasta, usually about 8-10 minutes.
    12 ounces elbow macaroni
  • While it’s cooking, measure out your butter and cut it into cubes. Cut the Velveeta into cubes as well, and measure out the evaporated milk, half and half, and cheese.
    4 tablespoons butter, 12 ounces evaporated milk, 3 cups cheddar cheese, 8 ounces Velveeta cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • When it’s done cooking, drain the pasta. Give it a couple of good shakes to remove any water that’s stuck inside the pasta shapes.
  • Immediately place the drained macaroni into your slow cooker. Add the cubed butter and give it a few good stirs until the butter is melted and the macaroni is completely coated.
  • Next, add the evaporated milk, half and half, some of the shredded cheddar, the cubed Velveeta cheese, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker with the macaroni. Stir everything together really well. The Velveeta and cheese might start to melt a bit. You just want everything to look well blended.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and set the heat to low for 3 hours.
  • During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the remaining half cup of shredded cheddar cheese evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  • Once the cooking time is completed, switch the slow cooker setting to “warm” to keep the macaroni and cheese at a delicious, serving-ready temperature.

Notes

Notes
  • To make cleanup a lot easier, line the Crock Pot with a slow cooker liner. Mac and cheese has a tendency to stick to the sides of the slow cooker. It can be challenging to clean afterward, but if you use a liner, you can just lift it out of the slow cooker, and Voila! Cleaned up slow cooker! If you don’t have a liner, you can also use cooking spray or butter to coat the inside of the slow cooker generously.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta when you boil it. It needs to be tender-crisp because it will cook a little bit more in the slow cooker. 
  • Resist the urge to open the lid of the Crock Pot. Trust the process, and don’t remove the lid so the heat doesn’t escape.
Serving: 1g, Calories: 515kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Sodium: 883mg, Potassium: 425mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 978IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 640mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: American Classic
Course: Side Dish
Author: Gina Dickson

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